The Time-Value of Data and What It Means For Consumers

Blog | 10 April 2019

Data is worth a lot in the marketplace, but we still struggle to understand what its tangible value really is. We have previously written about how some data is more valuable than others based on how usable it is over time. For example, criminals pay more for health data and passports than for other kinds of personal data because they are stable, do not change often and can be used in many ways once stolen.

The changing nature of personal information

Other types of data change more frequently. Buying habits change almost constantly, and often in predictable patterns. College students become young workers who become newlyweds who become parents, etc. At each stage –and within each stage – a lot of information changes. And it’s not just shopping patterns. Friendships change and evolve, people changes jobs, people move.

All of these changes have an impact on the systems people use. A change of address needs to be reported to many local and national government organizations to update driver’s licenses and mail delivery, for example. Banks need to be notified, as does any company that sends you a bill, etc.

The time-value of data: a major challenge for organizations

Which brings us to the time-value of data. Companies that collect data about individuals often suffer from the problem of having a lot of old data and not enough current data. Unless a company’s app collects data frequently, it risks becoming obsolete. It also puts individuals in a difficult position. On the one hand, they want the benefits of having systems recognize them and being updated. On the other hand, they do not like the privacy invasion that often comes along with systems having a lot of data.

A simple solution: decentralized identity apps

The use of decentralized identity apps can help people achieve the streamlined efficiency of having an app that is current and constantly updated without having to give up privacy. A consumer that uses decentralized identity and has granted permission for certain organizations to see their address, for example, only has to update their address in the identity app for the organizations to see the new address. No need for the person to update every organization individually.

And because identity apps that use blockchain technology have provable timestamps, everyone knows exactly how current the data is. People can revoke permission based on current data. For example, this can be the case when a customer closes their bank account and the bank no longer needs the new address.

This puts the individual in a position of power because the person decides what information to share and when, making the person the ultimate owner of the data. As data changes over time, only the user has the control to grant and revoke permission. Therefore, third party apps are no longer the owners of users’ data. These apps will now have to compensate users for their data because it will no longer reside in the app, but within the user’s identity app. Individuals who understand the time-value of data will see that they can become equal players in the data marketplace rather than pawns.

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